On this day: Roger Federer tops Tim Henman to claim Tokyo crown on debut


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On this day: Roger Federer tops Tim Henman to claim Tokyo crown on debut

It seems everything he touched had turned to gold for Roger Federer back in 2006, increasing the dominance over the rest of the Tour established in 2004 and 2005 and winning 92 out of 97 matches (four losses came against Rafael Nadal) to finish the season on the record-breaking 12 ATP titles.

Roger won three Major crowns in 2006 and lost three notable finals on clay to Nadal, including Roland Garros where he had the opportunity to earn tennis glory, playing above all the rivals on hard and grass to write new pages in history books and stay on the path towards the greatest player ever.

After losing in the second round of Cincinnati to Andy Murray, Roger had won all the matches until the end of the season, heading to Tokyo a month after winning the US Open and lifting the title on debut following a 6-3 6-3 triumph over Tim Henman on October 8 in an hour and seven minutes, claiming the ninth title of the season.

Between 1999-2004, Henman had a clear edge over Roger, winning six out of seven encounters before Federer took charge and grabbed six straight victories over the Briton, finishing with seven wins and six losses against Henman.

Federer had to work hard in the opening round against Viktor Troicki, prevailing in two tie breaks before another fierce clash in the quarter-final versus Takao Suzuki that he conquered in the third set tie break to stay on the title course.

Roger needed an hour to dismiss Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-4 in the semis, losing eight points on serve and breaking the German once in each set to secure the place in the final in no time at all. They had a similar number of errors but the Swiss fired ten winners more than the German to seal the deal in straight sets, dominating in the mid-range rallies to set Henman clash for the crown.

Despite serving at only 56%, Federer controlled the pace in his games and lost just 11 points in nine service games, playing against no break chances and keeping the pressure on Tim all the time. The Briton had six double faults and dropped 45% of the points behind the initial shot, having to play against 11 break points and suffering three breaks in what was his 28th and the last ATP final.

Roger held at love in the opening game and moved ahead after a double fault from Tim at 3-2, creating a 5-2 gap after three service winners in the next game. Serving for the set at 5-3, Roger blasted three winners to claim the opener and boost confidence before the rest of the encounter, doing everything right on the court so far.

Henman repelled break chances at the beginning of the second set before getting broken in the third game when his forehand landed long, drifting further and further away from a positive result. Federer confirmed the break with a service winner and blasted another one to bring the sixth game home and move 4-2 ahead.

Three direct points pushed the Swiss 5-3 up before converting the third match point in the ninth game when Henman sprayed a forehand error to celebrate his first and only title in Japan.